Public asked to weigh in on use of Oak Bay Lodge property

Future use of the four-acre property now home to Oak Bay Lodge, which is expected to be demolished, is up for discussion at two virtual open houses this month.

Built in 1970, the 235-bed facility is now empty after seniors living there moved last year to The Summit, a 320-bed long-term care home on Hillside Avenue.

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Online open houses are planned for Jan. 21 and 26, with the first round of consultation already underway at crd.bc.ca/oakbaylodge. Capital region residents can visit the site to review information, weigh in via an online feedback form and sign up for the open houses.

Consultation will continue until Feb. 4, with a second round expected in the spring.

“Working with the community to reimagine the future use of the property is a high-priority project for the region,” said Denise Blackwell, who chairs the board for the ­Capital Regional Hospital District, which is overseeing the planning and consultation process.

Blackwell said the property will continue to be used for a health-care facility. “So for example we could have an urgent primary care centre on the main floor like we have out in Langford, or maybe a pharmacy, and then have care beds up above.”

She said it’s important to get feedback from throughout the capital region, not just residents of Oak Bay, where the lodge is located.

It’s anticipated that demolition could begin early this year. The hospital district has started the process of applying for a demolition permit from Oak Bay.

Demolition and remediation is expected to take eight to 10 months.

A September report to the board said the lodge would have cost at least as much to remediate as it would to replace.

“We were quite glad to get the people out of Oak Bay Lodge because there’s issues with the elevators, the balconies aren’t safe, there’s all sorts of issues with the building,” Blackwell said. “So we want to get it demolished and get on with something practical and that is useful for the community.”

A proposal to use part of the lodge for homeless seniors on a temporary basis was rejected.

The $10 million allocated for demolition and redevelopment through 2022 includes $1.4 million for dealing with hazardous materials.

The facility, made up of two buildings covering 15,000 square feet, is bordered by Cadboro Bay Road, Cranmore Street and Hampshire Road and includes large garden areas.

The executive of the Community Association of Oak Bay said in a statement that the group is excited about the community-engagement process.

“We support this initiative and will assist in this important endeavour to encourage the community to participate in this opportunity for defining the future use of this site.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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